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Old 02-12-2013, 05:00 PM   #1
HopRodGR
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Default Imperial Red Ale / India Red Ale Malt Bill

I'm looking for a bit of recipe feedback from anyone who has put together an Imperial Red Ale or IRA that they really liked. The beer I'm making is based on GABF Style Category 55 (Imperial Red Ale). For easy reference:

55. Imperial Red Ale
Imperial or Double Red Ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is also very high and of notable character. They range from deep amber to dark copper in color and may exhibit a small amount of chill haze at cold temperatures. The style may use any variety of hops. Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high caramel malt character. Imperial or Double Red Ales have a full body. Diacetyl should not be perceived.

-Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.080-1.100 (19.3-23.7 ºPlato)
-Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.020-1.028 (5-7 ºPlato)
-Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 6.3-8.4% (7.9-10.5%)
-Bitterness (IBU): 55-85
-Color SRM (EBC): 10-15 (20-30 EBC)


I'm comfortable with my hopping schedule (10oz in 5 gallons, mostly late, 81 IBU's) but am trying to dial in a malt bill that I like. Mostly, trying to dial in the right amount of crystal malt to use. I rarely like to exceed 10% in my ales, but beers like Pizza Port Shark Bite Red get rave reviews, and that has close to 20% crystal in it (though not technically an Imperial Red). Anyone have experience making one of these?

Target OG = 1.084
Target FG = 1.020
Target ABV = 9.0%
Anticipated Color = 17.7 SRM
Yeast = Safale US-05

35% - Maris Otter (3.0L)
35% - American 2-Row (1.8L)
12.5% - Weyermann Light Munich (7L)
10% - British 50/60 Medium Crystal (55L)
6.25% - Red Wheat Malt (2.5L)
1.25% - Weyermann CaraAroma (150L)

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Old 02-12-2013, 05:07 PM   #2
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See, I would treat this style a bit differently... More like a red Pliny the Elder or Heady Topper with added malt complexity, toastiness, and perhaps a tad more sweetness, but not incredibly so. ~~ 1.015 FG

Mostly Maris Otter and American 2-row, with some vienna or munich, victory malt a must, maybe a bit of rye or wheat, <8% combo C80 & C40, 2% chocolate malt for a color adjustment, and whatever other non-crystal malt character grains you deem necessary. No simple sugars in the fermentables. Add a decent amount of hops similar to what you would use for a Double IPA. And finish things with a more estery yeast like Wyeast 1968.

Now that's a complex and characterful imperial hoppy red to me.

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Old 02-12-2013, 05:10 PM   #3
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If you want that caramel sweetness, you've got to give it lots of Crystal like a wee heavy, but with hops. Balance is the key--It can be really sweet because it's got the bitterness and hop falvor/aroma to balance it (and not taste like a wee heavy for this reason). I'd layer in some more caramel, like special B or 120, unless you want more of a red-colored IPA. Since you're already at the top of the IBU range, being at the top of the FG range shouldn't kill you.

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Old 02-12-2013, 05:30 PM   #4
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Mine was 80% 2-row, 8% white wheat, 8% amber, 4% Special B. Gravities were 1.075/1.015 fermented with US-05 on half the batch and WY3787 on the other half. Both halves are very good beers. I would prefer them a touch drier, but it doesn't sound like that's what you want. My only change to your malt bill would be to drop the C-55. I think the combo of Munich, wheat and C-150 should give you plenty of sweetness and body. Obviously you can manipulate this quite a bit with mash temps and yeast selection as well.

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Old 02-12-2013, 06:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingwood-kid View Post
Mine was 80% 2-row, 8% white wheat, 8% amber, 4% Special B. Gravities were 1.075/1.015 fermented with US-05 on half the batch and WY3787 on the other half. Both halves are very good beers. I would prefer them a touch drier, but it doesn't sound like that's what you want. My only change to your malt bill would be to drop the C-55. I think the combo of Munich, wheat and C-150 should give you plenty of sweetness and body. Obviously you can manipulate this quite a bit with mash temps and yeast selection as well.
If there was a list of commercial beers I'm trying to go along the lines of, this would be a good list to start. (http://aleheads.com/2011/01/18/best-imperial-red-ales/) Another good one is Bell's This One Goes to 11 (Link: http://www.bellsbeer.com/brands/45-T...0to%2011%20Ale), which was a special brew they did last year, though my recipe doesn't ramp it up that high. So yes, my plan (as of right now at least) is to mash lower to make sure I get enough attenuation, while gaining some caramel character from the crystal that's in the recipe. Of course, the key is so it isn't overwhelming, as I'm trying to make something that has malt character that you would not see in a double IPA, as opposed to a DIPA that is just amber/red in color.

Sure sounds like there are a lot of schools of though on this "style". Very interesting to hear different perspectives.
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Old 02-12-2013, 06:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopRodGR View Post
I'm trying to make something that has malt character that you would not see in a double IPA, as opposed to a DIPA that is just amber/red in color.
You mean like a touch of chocolate malt and a decent amount of Victory?
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
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You mean like a touch of chocolate malt and a decent amount of Victory?
Not really. From my past use of Victory and Chocolate Malt, I think that might impart a different flavor than the style guidelines I included above suggest, especially if the beer dries out to 1.015 or so like you've suggested. Sounds like a great beer, just a different one than what my target is. I like the idea of using an english ale strain though. WLP007 might even work well due to its higher attenuation.

The suggestion of a Wee Heavy but with hops is interesting. The additional bitterness would play with the caramel sweetness, and as long as a highly attenuative yeast strain was used. Some caramel character is definitely desired, but we've all had a beer that has too much... it usually doesn't end well.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:04 PM   #8
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2% chocolate malt is not for flavor... it's for the color adjustment.

Victory malt would be a great choice for an Imperial Red. It's nutty and super biscuity, adds smoothness and complexity in terms of both flavor and aroma.

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Old 02-12-2013, 08:04 PM   #9
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I'm not familiar with all those beers, but Bear Republic Red Rocket and Highland's Gaelic Ale (not imperial) are both Scotch ale meets American hops. Maybe find clones for the beers you like in the style and see what they do for caramel percentage and mash temp to determine where you'd like yours to end up.

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Old 02-12-2013, 09:45 PM   #10
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Oskar Blues makes a delicious Imperial Red IPA called G'knight. There's a BN podcast that covers it too. I have this on my brew schedule for this year.

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